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O-Zone: Crying boy

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

David from Ada, OK

A bit weird having two recent Jaguar starters competing against each other in the Super Bowl as backups. What say ye, John?

I say Chad Henne, who started 22 games for the Jaguars and was with the franchise from 2012-2017, has been the backup quarterback to Patrick Mahomes for the Kansas City Chiefs since 2018. I also say Gardner Minshew II, who started 20 games for the Jaguars and was with the franchise from 2019-2020, has been the backup to Jalen Hurts with the Philadelphia Eagles since 2021. I say I suppose it's somewhat weird, although perhaps not unbelievably so. Both are smart players capable of solid play for the short-term but perhaps not capable of winning consistently if starting for an extended time. That makes them valuable backups in the right situation – and it seems both have found good situations.

Jason from Suffolk, VA

How do you feel about our defensive tackle position moving forward? I think it should be a top consideration for the offseason. If we had an inside threat similar to Chris Jones of Kansas City it would open up more opportunities for both outside linebackers Travon Walker and Josh Allen, improving our overall defense. Do you see any possibilities during the draft or free agency? I'm sure this is easier said than done.

The Jaguars are in a tricky spot here. They were OK on the defensive interior in 2022, and at times they got really good production from players such as Roy Robertson-Harris and DaVon Hamilton. But they were not great there – and great defenses are usually great on the interior front. And you're right that it's easier said than done to get an inside threat similar to Jones; he's perhaps the best in the NFL at what he does. I don't expect the Jaguars to spend enough in free agency to get a top-of-the-line starter here – and getting top of the line in free agency often is a bit of a gamble, anyway. It's also tough to get immediate defensive-interior help in the draft, particularly selecting late in the first round.

Damian from Ocala, FL

You don't know what you're talking about.

Go Jaguars.

Brendan from Yulee, FL

I can't remember who said it, but someone emphasized the importance of re-signing draft picks to second contracts. I, along with many fans, are tired of seeing our players walk just to see them play in a Super Bowl with a different team elsewhere. Time to put up or shut up! Re-sign our good players!

Just about everyone who understands how best to build a competitive NFL franchise has said it's important to re-sign a team's own players. This was one reason they re-signed left tackle Cam Robinson last offseason. Right tackle Jawaan Taylor is the most high-profile Jaguars draft selection scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The Jaguars want to re-sign him. It won't be easy or cheap. Then again, re-signing premium players isn't supposed to be easy or cheap. Stay tuned.

Nathan from Utah, US

Zone, there's a question here somewhere. I'd like your take on the wide receiver room and this awesome Trevor Lawrence situation the Jaguars are currently in. And, of course, the greatest offensive line in football. The word speedster was mentioned in an O-Zone, and the thought of our need for one. By the way, what is the difference in a 4.3 and a 4.5 second forty? Frankly, General Manager Trent Baalke hit several home runs, in my opinion. Signing wide receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones and tight end Evan Engram. I can't think of another free agent wide receiver or tight end who excelled as a Jaguar. And with Lawrence, wide receiver Calvin Ridley will undoubtingly excel, too, as a Jaguar. But watching this team this year, has me thinking that the threat of a "No. 1" wide receiver and running back isn't enough to keep a defense 'honest'. But rather having its quarterback as the threat. And neutralizing the defense, not with a 4.3 forty guy, but rather with 300-pound, sub-5.0 40 guy- walls who can derail an on-coming freight train. Allowing time for quarterback, and opening hallways for running back to do their jobs- #MOODACHAY!

The regular season feels far, far away.

Ed from Jax by Lionel Playworld

What led to Doug Pederson's dismissal in Philadelphia? What has he learned and how does he avoid it here?

This is tricky to answer. One thing rarely leads to success or failure in the NFL – and one thing rarely leads to a head coach being fired. Pederson was dismissed as Eagles head coach following a 4-11-1 season in 2020, and his dismissal was considered a surprise because the Eagles had won a Super Bowl following the 2017 season – and because they had made the playoffs in 2018-2019. Eagles Owner Jeff Lurie reportedly didn't like Pederson's plans regarding coaching staff moving forward. There also were reports that the team was unhappy that then-Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz struggled in 2020 after playing like a Most Valuable Player candidate before an injury in 2017. Those are things that can cause an owner to part ways with a head coach. Mostly, I imagine Lurie thought a change of direction was needed – even if that meant parting ways with a very good head coach. What has Pederson learned? Probably very little he didn't know already. Coaches get fired in the NFL, even the best coaches.

Dave from Jax

John-O. I rewatched a bunch of the offensive highlights from the season, and had a few takeaways. First, there are a lot of highlights this year. I can't remember the last time we had five-plus players with lengthy highlight reels. Also, among all those highlights Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne Jr. stand out above the rest. Many of the throws and runs are just jaw-dropping. Hopefully we have many more years to enjoy watching those two play.


Robert from Richmond

I know the Jags can't talk to Calvin Ridley until he is reinstated, but can they communicate with his agent? Otherwise, how can they be so confident he'll be ready to play?

The Jaguars cannot communicate with wide receiver Calvin Ridley because he remains suspended by the NFL until at least February 15. They can communicate with people who know Ridley – and they can research him to get a very good idea his status, character and mindset.

Bob from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

I think Travon Walker had a decent first year as he got accustomed to the Pro game, and the team tried to find the best way to use his athleticism and skill set. I think he could be(come) a great "tight end neutralizer." His assignment would be to cover the tight end all over the field. He has the size, strength and speed for this, and with some offseason focused training and practice on his coverage skills, he would be great.


Steven from Nocatee, FL

What is the contract situation for Calvin Ridley? How many years is he still under contract and what is his cap hit for 2023? Assuming he is reinstated of course.

He's under contract for 2023 with a guaranteed salary and cap hit of $11.2 million.

Richard from Jacksonville

I don't think officials make mistakes or call games any differently than in the past. In some cases, technology allows us to see things you could never see at game speed. I think The League finally accepting and advertising sports betting plays a big part. Every game 50 percent of the people invested in that game are unhappy. Add a controversial call at the end and emotions run higher. For those that bet on the game, naturally the fix is in. Do you believe betting to be a factor in the increase of this ridiculous thought?

I think people have been "invested" in NFL games long before the league started accepting sports betting as part of its sport. I mainly think the officiating "crisis" is more the increased ability of people to express, amplify and reamplify their thoughts via social media. In 1975, when I was wee lad rooting for what later became the Washington Commanders, my then-favorite team lost a crucial game when referees ruled that St. Louis Cardinals wide receiver Mel Gray had caught a touchdown pass. The play clearly would not be a touchdown under today's rules and probably shouldn't have been a touchdown then. The loss led to the Commanders missing the postseason for the first time since 1970. It was a crushing moment for said wee lad. I don't know if replay would have overturned the Mel Gray play. I do know that had social media existed then, the controversy over call would have far more widespread. What were we as fans going to do then? Pick up the phone? And call who? I coped by screaming a little. I probably cried. I'm not saying I was all that well-adjusted in '75. I'm just saying what happened.